The Avengers Can Finally Assemble (Almost)

Marvel Entertainment confirmed that the Walt Disney Studios (“Disney”) and Sony Pictures Entertainment (“Sony”) reached an agreement to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (“MCU”).
March 8, 2015

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2015

A few days ago, Marvel Entertainment confirmed that the Walt Disney Studios (“Disney”) and Sony Pictures Entertainment (“Sony”) reached an agreement to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (“MCU”).[1] Sony has held the rights to the Spider-Man character since 1999,[2] and this new agreement means that actor Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man storyline will be cast away in order to reboot the series for MCU continuity.[3] Marvel executive Kevin Feige will produce the next installment of the $4 billion Spider-Man franchise.[4] Feige will team up with Amy Pascal, who is set to co-produce after she leaves her position as Sony’s motion picture group chairwoman in May 2015.[5]

The details of the deal have not been released from a reliable source, so it is unclear if Marvel managed to terminate its previous contract with Sony, or if Marvel and Sony negotiated a new contract, superseding the terms they were previously bound to. The latter is more likely. It is also unclear as to whether incorporating Spider-Man into the Avengers storyline means classic villains like the Green Goblin or Venom will appear in the Spider-Man movies, or even The Avengers movies, as well.[6] It is known that Sony will move forward with Sinister Six and Venom, two films that prominently feature Marvel villains.[7]

Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox (“Fox”) still owns the rights to the X-Men franchise, barring the Avengers from fully assembling until Disney can strike a deal. Even if a deal is made soon enough to include X-Men characters in the current MCU, the X-Men storyline created by Fox will likely need to be rebooted in order to seamlessly integrate the characters into Civil War and Infinity War.

For a timeline of the MCU Phase Three plans, check out http://comicbook.com/2014/11/17/marvel-released-official-marvel-cinematic-universe-phase-3-timel/ (although, this could all change with the addition of Spider-Man).


[1] See Sony Pictures Entertainment Brings Marvel Studios into the Amazing World of Spider-Man, Marvel (Feb. 10, 2015), http://marvel.com/news/movies/24062/sony_pictures_entertainment_brings_marvel_studios_into_the_amazing_world_of_spider-man.

[2] Marc Grasser, Spider-Man: How Sony, Marvel Will Benefit from Unique Deal, Variety (Feb. 10, 2015), http://variety.com/2015/film/news/details-spider-man-appear-in-sony-and-marvel-movies-1201429039/.

[3] See Darren Franich, RIP, The Amazing Spider Man, Entm’t Weekly (Feb. 10, 2015), http://www.ew.com/article/2015/02/10/rip-amazing-spider-man.

[4] Supra, note 1 (“Spider-Man . . . is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.”).

[5] See Brooks Barnes & Michael Cieply, Amy Pascal Keeps Sony’s Marquee Projects in Portfolio, Now as a Producer, N.Y. Times (Feb. 5 2015), http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/11/business/media/amy-pascal-to-work-on-sonys-spider-man-team.html?_r=0.

[6] See Spencer Perry, The Good and the Bad of Marvel and Sony’s Spider-Man Deal, SuperHeroHype (Feb. 13, 2015), http://www.superherohype.com/features/329955-the-good-and-the-bad-of-marvel-and-sonys-spider-man-deal (“The full details on the Spider-Man deal are kinda of sketchy. Can ONLY Spider-Man appear in the Avengers movies or is Feige allowed to bring the likes of Norman Osborn, Venom, or J. Jonah Jameson into other Marvel pictures? I’m going to venture a guess that character swapping is allowed, if a specific deal can be reached, since the teases of other MCU characters in future Spider-Man movies was mentioned in Marvel’s press release.”).

[7] Supra, note 2.

Mynda Krato is a third-year J.D. candidate interested in copyright law, trademark law, entertainment law, and basically all things IP-related. She gets a kick out of transactional drafting, is starting an internship at NatGeo this month, and went to the San Diego Comic-Con once, dressed up as Lara Croft. #yolo.